: Girlie sums up 2015

Girlie sums up 2015

Mary Chrismas, Rama Dunn, Hannah Carr

Trailblazing Women

The Trailblazing Women and the Law Project is creating, showcasing and analysing the experiences of seven decades of Australia’s pioneer, ‘trailblazing’, women lawyers. Using an interdisciplinary team with expertise in the fields of gender, oral history, biography, law, citizenship, social networks, cultural informatics, digital publishing and women’s history archiving, the Project will ensure trailblazing women in law are recognized and their stories made available to inspire others. The Project Partners are ANU, Australian Women Lawyers, The University of Melbourne’s eScholarship Research Centre, Family Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, National Foundation for Australian Women and the National Library of Australia.

The Women Lawyers’ Association of South Australia has made the Trailblazing Project their nominated charity for the 2015–16 financial year. WLASA has made a donation and is encouraging its members to donate. Girlie devotees can also be part of this inspirational work by making a donation to Trailblazing Women and the Law. Check out their website: — http:nfaw.org/donate and select ‘Trailblazing Women and the Law’.

WAM BAM

Speaking of donations, don’t forget Women and Mentoring — a fabulous initiative in Victoria where women charged with offences are matched with a mentor. The mentors assist and support the women at court and in finding and using resources in the community. Mentors offer personal and practical assistance and assist the women to look at options currently and into the future. WAM is unique in offering support to women at their first point of contact with the criminal justice system. Referrals to the service come from the police, community support agencies, community legal centres, legal representatives and directly from the women themselves. WAM would love to have your support and can be reached at: — http://womenandmentoring.org.au/donations-2/.

Violent Men

Domestic violence has been in the news big time recently. In late September the Victorian Coroner handed down his decision into the death of Luke Batty. Eleven-year-old Luke was murdered by his father at Tyabb. Luke’s mother Rosie Batty was at the scene of the murder and she displayed extraordinary courage. Rosie is currently Australian of the Year and her efforts to make family violence a prominent issue have been exemplary. Paula Shelton (Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2015) asks the question, ‘why do men harm and kill their families, and how do we stop them?’

Good question Paula. She compares Rosie Batty’s experience with that of Kelly Thompson who was killed by her ex-partner Wayne Wood. Both women were in toxic relationships from which they attempted to escape. Both had frustrating and traumatising experiences trying to obtain and enforce IVOs. Legal Aid was available for the men but not the women seeking IVOs. Both women reported breaches of the IVOs with little response from authorities. Shelton writes, ‘An unenforced intervention order is just a piece of paper, and it puts a woman at even greater risk as the abuser has been enraged by having an order made against him and his power … challenged.’ What is required is a change of culture to stop violent men’s sense of entitlement, robust enforcement of orders and more protection and choices for women and children. Rosie Batty’s courage in speaking out has brought some changes but dead women can’t speak so we all need to speak for them, to try to stop this violence.

Banking on Women

The World Bank report, Women, Business and the Law 2016: Getting to Equal, published in September 2015, reports widespread legal barriers to the economic advancement of women by shutting them out of certain employment, limiting access to credit and leaving them unprotected against violence in many economies around the world. Women face job restrictions in 100 of the 173 economies monitored. Women are banned from certain factory jobs in 41 economies; prohibited from working at night in 29; cannot get a job without their husband’s permission in 18. Less than a third of the economies surveyed have parental leave; in 30, married women cannot chose where to live and, in 19, they are legally obliged to obey their husbands. Disparities revealed in the report impact negatively on the women, their children, their communities and on their countries’ economies.

Bye Bye Troy Boy

An anti-abortionist who had his visa to travel to Australia cancelled nonetheless got on a plane and came here. He was intercepted by Border Force and placed in a detention centre pending an appeal to the High Court of Australia. The High Court dismissed his application for an injunction to stop his removal from Australia. Justice Nettle found Troy Newman did not ‘come to this Court with clean hands’ having entered the country illegally. Newman has described doctors and nurses who provide abortion services as murderers, and questioned why they have not been executed.

MARY CHRISTMAS, RAMA DUNN and HANNAH CARR are feminist lawyers.

(2015) 40(4) AltLJ 283
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